Iran General NewsVenezuela and Iran strengthen ties with Caracas-to-Tehran flight

Venezuela and Iran strengthen ties with Caracas-to-Tehran flight

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New York Times: Iran is already Venezuela’s closest ally outside Latin America, with ventures to produce oil and build cars and tractors together. Now, travelers between the countries can also take a weekly flight between Caracas and Tehran. The New York Times

By SIMON ROMERO
Published: March 3, 2007

CARACAS, Venezuela, March 2 — Iran is already Venezuela’s closest ally outside Latin America, with ventures to produce oil and build cars and tractors together. Now, travelers between the countries can also take a weekly flight between Caracas and Tehran.

The flight, which was inaugurated here on Friday and includes a stop in Damascus, Syria, is operated in a code-share agreement by the Venezuelan state-controlled airline Conviasa and Iran’s national carrier, Iran Air.

Officials at Conviasa said that the company would use a Boeing 747 on the route and that soon it would also make available a European-made Airbus 340.

Under President Hugo Chávez, Venezuela has tightened relations with Iran and expressed explicit support for its uranium enrichment program.

Mr. Chávez has also reached out to Syria, making plans to build a $1.5 billion oil refining complex there. He sees relations with Iran and Syria, both under United States sanctions, as a centerpiece of a foreign policy aimed at countering American influence around the world.

Mr. Chávez “is much loved in our country, and our people want to come here to get to know this land,” Abdullah Zifan, Iran’s ambassador to Venezuela, said when plans for the flight were announced last month.

Venezuela is considering extending its economic cooperation agreements to the military sphere. It is discussing a venture with Iran to produce remotely piloted aircraft that could be used for surveillance along the border with Colombia.

Iranian officials are already a staple of state television shows here, invited to discuss the country’s array of agreements in Venezuela, including one to produce Peugeot-inspired Semand sedans at a plant that is expected to start commercial output near Caracas this month.

For Conviasa, the Tehran route will raise its international profile. The airline said in a statement that it would “offer excellent service at solidarity prices,” although no one at Conviasa could immediately say what a ticket to Tehran would cost.

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